Digital campaign
Go-to-market planning
Analytics and measurement
Content strategy
Live action video

The challenge

IBM was ready to reach a young developer audience by launching a new marquee cognitive event at South by Southwest 2016 (SXSW). This event would mark the first time IBM hosted a comprehensive brand level event at SXSW. As a key cognitive event, they needed create a highly immersive experience that captured a large participation from the SXSW community. Somnio was asked to generate a big, in-person attendance and digital following at the IBM marquee cognitive event—a notable challenge, considering so many different “Big Name” companies are vying for social attention and physical attendance. IBM’s event experience needed to shine brighter than the competition at this internationally known marquee event. This also presented an opportunity for Somnio and IBM to market to a new audience of young developers and mostly millennial influencers eager to see and share news about new tech.


Somnio used designs atypical to IBM branding to refresh audience perspectives of the company, elevate attention and improve retention. Somnio took a three-step approach to this project: awareness, tease, and reveal. We spread awareness through social media, released more creative posts about what the event could actually feature accompanied by cool, relevant designs, and released creative assets (gifs) that gave the viewer a peek behind the curtain.

Spread across two phases (pre-event and during SXSW), the campaign utilized strategies of anticipation and curiosity in addition to real-time and geo-based targeting. By creating an impact across more than five unique platforms, we were able to incorporate some of the latest and most advanced social media targeting methods, capture audience attention at the point of their destination decision and drive the audience to IBM’s physical SXSW presence. There they were greeted with an array of unique, exciting and memorable interactive experiences.

Along with ongoing influencer activation management, other strategic executions included, namely:
(1) Campaign Editorial Calendar
(1) IBM Cognitive Studio Hype Film
(8) Animated GIFs/AutoPlay Videos
(4) Authored Blogs
(4) Weeks of social media copy and tiles
(1) Interactive Maker’s Mosaic Software Platform


Notable metrics:
  • Brought over 8,500 attendees to the IBM Cognitive Studio in 5 days

  • Feedback accrued to over 240% of goal
  • Experienced over 4,000 participants at the Maker’s Mosaic
  • Mentioned in 20 blogs by internal and external sources
  • 1,200+ Facebook followers in 16 days
  • 15,800,000+ impressions across 3 unique social platforms
  • Attained a net click-through rate of .56% across 3 unique social platforms

Our campaign received very positive feedback, drawing over 9,200 total attendees against our goal of 4,000 in only five days. With a consistent line out the door and major media pickup, the buzz around IBM’s Cognitive Studio was felt all across SXSW.

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